 Arcade Daily #7 - Hexaflip

The last game I reviewed, Oceanhorn 2 is, as mentioned within, best experienced on the biggest screen you can, and ideally with a controller. Now that the weekend is over, I wanted to today look at a game that’s less time consuming and one that works well on the iPhone instead. Something fun for some short, weekday break bursts.

When I’ve seen anyone on Twitter recommending an  Arcade game that is good to use on the iPhone, particularly in portrait mode, I’ve seen todays game recommended more often than not. This game is Hexaflip: The Action Puzzler by Rogue Games. I didn’t realise this as I started to write this review, but this is the same developer behind another  Arcade game that I reviewed a few days ago, Super Impossible Road. The former title didn’t impress me all that much, as I wrote at the time, but thankfully Hexaflip was a bit more of an engrossing experience.

The aim of the game, which you’d never guess from the name is to … flip a hexagon. Yes, that’s right, you tap on the left hand side of the screen to flip your hexagonal avatar to the left and tap the right to flip to the right. To complete the level you just need to get to the end without dying. Along the way you will come across various obstacles like gaps to fall down, spikes, hammers, lasers and various other nefarious inanimate objects. Breaking up all the danger there are also various blocks that flip you in the direction they indicate, or moving hexagons that transport you around the map.

There are no time limits in each level, so if you wanted to you could crawl your way to the end of each level, as slowly as you like, just to get it done. In order to encourage some speed, and in turn more danger there are 3 gems in each level, with countdown timers that start as you start the level. Once the timer runs down the gems disappear. You’re encouraged to get to the gems as quickly as possible to collect them before they’re lost. If you collect enough over various levels you’ll unlock some skins for your avatar. Seeing as your avatar is just a hexagon, the skins are fairly uninspiring, so it’s not really going to be worth your time to push yourself too hard here. Unless you really like to put different colours on a hexagon … there’s always someone I guess.

On the face of it, Hexaflip is a pretty dull game. The setting is just a bunch of hexagons laying out on a map. It reminds me of Blockbusters which, for those of a certain age, isn’t a good thing. For a reason I cannot explain, however, and despite all of this, it’s actually a really fun, and addictive game. It’s very much a ’just one more go!’ type of game so I can actually see why it’s being recommended by so many people.

The game’s simple, yet good looking1 and fairly addictive. If you’re after something to pick up for quick sessions while you’re trying to pass your time in a queue, or waiting for your Costa coffee order, you can do a lot worse than firing up Hexaflip. Happy flipping!


  1. Well, as good looking as a game like this can look. I’m not sure it’s ‘console quality’ like the App Store listing says, however. [return]

 Arcade Daily #6 - Oceanhorn 2

It was, and is, my intention to keep these micro reviews true to their name. To keep them short and sweet, and to simply act as a quick guide to whether or not a particular title is worth your time amongst the fairly crowded  Arcade line-up.

A review for the game I want to look at today, Oceanhorn 2, should really just read: ’This game is fantastic and you’d be mad to not play it’, but I guess I should perhaps expand, just a little …

Oceanhorn 2, by Cornfox & Brothers Ltd. is the sequel to one of the best iOS games there has ever been, namely 2013’s Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas. The original game took heavy inspiration from early The Legend of Zelda games, and this sequel has gone full on Breath of the Wild.

If I didn’t know better, Oceanhorn 2 could come across as a complete rip-off of Breath of the Wild, much like some of the older Gameloft classics, but while Oceanhorn 2 does, indeed, borrow very heavily from Breath of the Wild, it’s also extremely put together and designed in its own right.

Much like the Zelda franchise, Oceanhorn 2 plays fast and loose with timelines, and is actually set 1,000 years before the original game. If you’ve played Breath of the Wild, or any Zelda game really, you’ll be instantly familiar with the game-style as soon as you fire it up and you’ll certainly notice the borrowed aspects, from a Link like roll, climb, fighting style, treasure chest opening style, jumping grunt noise, stamina reducing climbing … I really could be here all day with this …

Like I said, however, Oceanhorn 2 isn’t just some Zelda rip-off, it really does stand on it’s own as one of the best games I’ve ever played on an iPad. The graphics, music and general aesthetic are gorgeous, the world is immersive and I can’t wait to get through the entire (15 hour approx.) journey.

Another unique part of Oceanhorn, further setting it apart from The Legend of Zelda franchise, is the team you can form quite early on into the game. You can join forces with Trin and Gen, a pretty cool looking robot, who fight along side you. You can even issue commands to them to help you out with various puzzles which is a really nice touch. The light steam-punk aesthetic of the world is really quite cool as well, from the hero’s unique looking gun, to the robots and, from what I’ve seen in the trailer, motorbike like devices and airplanes.

One of the problems with attempting this, frankly stupid, daily  Arcade review challenge I’ve set myself, is that my limited free time is being spread very thinly. Because of this, I’ve not been able to dig through as much of the game as I would have liked, and I’m now going to have to move onto the next game to try out before I can come back to more, but I will certainly be back to it as often as I can until I’ve completed it. The other games I’ve reviewed so far are nice to dip in and out of, but Oceanhorn 2 is definitely one to settle down with a nice cup of tea, dim the lights, fire up the Xbox controller and get adventuring.

If you have an  Arcade subscription you owe it to yourself to jump into Oceanhorn 2 with both feet and soak it all in.

 Arcade Daily #5 - Super Impossible Road

Merriam Webster defines the world ‘impossible’ as something which is:

Incapable of being or of occurring

With that in mind, the next game I’ve chosen to look at in my daily  Arcade daily reviews, could be written up under the Trades Description Act. Not only was the first game not actually impossible, neither is this reimagining of an App Store classic, Super Impossible Road. While it may not really be impossible, it is a bit bloody hard …

Super Impossible Road has been created by Rogue Games Inc. If you check their page on the App Store, you’ll see that Rogue Games are a very prolific developer. They’ve been a staple in the store for some time, so it’s perhaps suitable that they’re part of the initial launch group for  Arcade with Super Impossible Road.

While the game does have a loose story1,it really is irrelevant. All you need to know is that Super Impossible Road sees you speeding down a twisting and coiling track set against some very nice looking intergalactic backgrounds. There are, currently, five different game modes to play through, which are:

  • Career - This mode tasks you with taking part in a plethora of different races, involving simply finishing in the best time, crossing X amount of gates etc.
  • Race - This mode includes only offline races against AI opponents.
  • Online Race - This is, you guessed it, races but … online!
  • Time Gate - this is, essentially, a time challenge. You must cross each gate before the time runs out. Each gate will grant a few extra, precious nano-seconds.
  • Classic Mode - This seems to be a survival mode, where you simply have to survive as long as possible.

Super Impossible Road is fairly unique in that the game appears to be equally as playable with touch controls as it is with MFi / Xbox / PS4 game controller support. Xbox controller support is very important to me with this  Arcade lineup, so that’s a bit +1 from me.

In each review, so far, I’ve mentioned how impressed I’ve been with the  Arcade line up. Super Impossible Road is my first disappointment. The only reason it’s a disappointment, however, is the strength of the competition. Taken in isolation Super Impossible Road is great fun to play, runs well, looks even better and once again the lack of IAPs helps to elevate a title that would definitely have been riddled with them in the past. For me, however, the game is a little too retro and, if I’m being completely honest, boring.

Standards have been set so high, right now, and options are so vast, the  Arcade games are going to need to be something special to keep me playing. In a normal world Super Impossible World would be a strong entry into the App Store. As it stands, it’s fairly mediocre. All that being said, it’s presence in the  Arcade lineup is welcome and while it’s not a game I will dedicate time to right now, while there are so many to work my way through, I’m sure I’ll spend some time with it in the future.


  1. Something, something future, something, something racing … [return]

 Arcade Daily #4 - tint.

After a manic week of work, family and digging through endless  Arcade games I needed a break and a little relaxation and, luckily I didn’t even have to leave the Arcade to find it.

The next stop on my whistlstop tour of  Arcade is the ’relaxing col(u)or-mixing puzzle’ game, tint., by Bangkok based developer Lykke Studio.

tint.1 requires you to solve a multitude of different puzzles through the power of watercolours. In order to solve each puzzle you’re required to match your paint strokes to the colour of the origami pieces on each page of a book. This starts off simple enough, matching red paint to red origami and blue paint to, you guessed it, blue origami. This quickly moves on, however, requiring you to mix the paint trails together as you go along to match to non-primary colour origami pieces.

While this premise is very simple, the execution is absolutely stunning.

You select the level, or page, you want to play in my leafing through a gorgeously rendered art book whilst being serenaded by some superbly relaxing and soothing music and sound effects. Each section of the book is themed around different seasons, from crisp autumnal colours and aesthetics to bright summer tones and everything in between. It really is a gorgeous looking game, and experience.

Not only does the game look beautiful, it also sounds it. According to the  Arcade listing the full binaural audio experience has been crafted by hand using real objects found in nature and in an art studio. I’m not sure what sort of sounds you get inside an art studio, to be fair, but if this is what it sounds like I may need to visit more often …

I’m going to keep todays review short and sweet, because I think simply reading about a game like this cannot do it justice one little bit. All I will say is that if you have an  Arcade subscription, and I imagine you do if you’re reading this in the first place, you owe it yourself and your mental well being to give this game a try. Get home from work, have a bath, make a cup of tea, put your feet up, pop in some headphones and unwind with this beautiful, entrancing and soothing game. You can thank me later.


  1. Yes, the lower case name and full stop is the way the studio write it, it’s not a typo, but thanks. [return]

 Arcade Daily #3 - Bleak Sword

The previous  Arcade reviews that I’ve written have been for games that, in my opinion, are best experienced on a larger screen1. In order to bring a little balance to the force I wanted to try a game that’s more at home on the iPhone.

To that end, today’s  Arcade Daily micro-review is for Bleak Sword from Devolver Digital.

The  Arcade listing for the game describes it as featuring Dark Fantasy Dioramas which is a perfect description of the graphical style used in the game. Bleak Sword sees you facing off against a myriad of increasingly dangerous and powerful beasts and monsters across some compact, yet beautifully designed diorama battlefields.

The controls are easy to pick up, yet difficult to master. With a simple tap, hold, and swipe you’re able to direct your avatar to roll, parry, attack, and counter-attack the various creatures that populate each small level. Controller support is also available, which is always welcome, though as mentioned before, is certainly not necessary. The  Arcade listing doesn’t actually indicate controller support is included, but the developer description does. With a little practise you’ll soon be rolling around the screen and slashing your sword around like a pro. Once you get the hang of it it’s very satisfying.

The aim of the game is simply to defeat each levels monsters, whilst taking as little damage as possible. Remaining health rolls over into the next level. Between levels you have a chance of finding various items that increase your stats, such as a sword that adds +1 attack power, or a bracelet that adds +1 health and +2 attack. You get the idea. If you should die along the way you will lose everything you’ve collected and all experienced points you’ve earned so far. You are given an opportunity to get it all back, instantly, by clearing the level out that you last died in. If you fail to do so it’s gone forever. This is essentially a mini Dark Souls and it’s great.

The art style is sparse, but strangely beautiful. The level design, whilst small, still looks oddly detailed, despite the 8-bit graphical style. The dioramas feature a quite hypnotic parallax effect which works really well in my opinion. Each battle is fairly quick paced, so you will often get little time to stop and appreciate just how cool looking each level is, which is a shame really.

A list of over 30 achievements to unlock and an Arena mode help add some further depth to the game as well.

Bleak Sword is great fun to play and works really well as a game to have a quick go on when you need to burn a few minutes2 in a queue or … when doing something else that rhymes with queue.3 Yet again, this  Arcade title is a winner, and well worth some of your time.


  1. Which, in my case, was the 12.9” iPad Pro. [return]
  2. Though longer sessions would work just as well. [return]
  3. It’s okay, we’ve all done it from time to time … [return]

 Arcade Daily #2 - Agent Intercept

Next up in our journey through the  Arcade catalogue is the excellent Agent Intercept by prolific development house PikPok.

Agent Intercept sees you take on the role of a James Bond come Austin Powers type secret agent tasked with completing various missions in order to stop the dastardly CLAW organisation. The missions all, conveniently, involve chasing, racing, destroying and otherwise generally bothering a plethora of bad guys in your souped-up secret agent vehicle from the start of the course to the end.

The graphics are quite pretty, especially on the iPad Pro where I’m doing most of my  Arcade gaming at the moment. The music is also suitably retro and ‘secret agenty’, which is a nice touch.

On the face of it, the game appears to be a fairly standard iOS game, but there are some features of this title that make it stand out amongst its non-Apple Arcade peers.

One of the major selling points of  Arcade is the fact that, in order to be included in the collection, the games have to be made fully available to the player. By this, I mean that In-App Purchases (IAPs) are not allowed. Agent Intercept is a perfect example of how a game that, without  Arcade, would have almost certainly been absolutely crippled by IAPs. As I mentioned on Twitter a few days ago, the lack of IAPs catapults Agent Intercept to a really enjoyable game that you can dip in and out of. If IAPs were allowed, it would almost certainly be something you’d play once or twice, until you hit the inevitable blocker or paywall, at which point you’d be hounded by requests to buy some agent bux or the like.

Games with IAPs always feel like they’re out to get you. They walk a fine line between making sure you’re enjoying yourself, whilst also working against you to prevent progress at every turn. Agent Intercept feels so much better for the fact that you’re left completely free to just enjoy the ride, whilst taking out some CLAW scum along the way.

While it’s not necessary (or possible) to monetise the game in the, now, standard way of IAPs, PikPok have come up with a smart way to keep you coming back to the game. I’m not sure what the monetisation model is for inclusion in  Arcade, but I can only assume that the more your game is played, the more you get paid. To this end, the game has a daily rotation of missions available to you. Are you finding todays mission too hard? No problem, just stop playing and come back again tomorrow for a new challenge. I think this is a really smart way to keep eyes on your game, whilst also giving players a genuine, none manipulative reason to keep coming back.

Another high point of the game for me is the fact the game includes controller support. While Hot Lava, which I looked at yesterday, was pretty unplayable without a controller, Agent Intercept works very well with touch controls. Controller support does, however, really take things up to 11.

I’ve been really impressed with the  Arcade line up so far, and Agent Intercept is another strong offering. While it doesn’t really offer anything all that unique, the lack of IAPs, allowing the game to be just that, a game, is a unique selling point unto itself. I think this game, along with its peers amongst the other  Arcade titles, is really going to change the App Store paradigm and I can’t wait.

 Arcade Daily #1 - Hot Lava

With the (early) launch of  Arcade to iOS / iPadOS beta testers, early adopters now have access to an impressive library of some really fun and interesting new games. While, right now at least, the list of available games is somewhat shy of the promised ‘over 100’1, it’s still an ample launch catalogue.

Since it was first announced at this years WWDC I’ve been looking forward to trying  Arcade, so as soon as I spotted it had launched I jumped all over it. I’ve since downloaded all of the available games to my iPad Pro and am slowly working my way through.

I’ve been enjoying gaming on iOS more and more over recent months, so this has come at a perfect time for me. To celebrate the launch of this service I’m planning on writing a series of posts, one each day, looking at a different game in the catalogue each time. Some micro reviews as it were.

To this end, I’m going to start with the title that’s impressed me the most so far2, namely Hot Lava.

According to the  Arcade listing:

Hot Lava transports you back to your childhood imagination.

If any child has an imagination this extravagant then all the best to them!

The game is, essentially, a digital The Floor Is Lava game, on steroids. The aim of the game is simple, get to the end as fast as possible. As is often the case with any (good) game that appears simple, however, there’s more to it than that.

Firstly, each level you enter has a set of goals you can aim for in order to really master the level. These goals range from completing the level under a certain time, finding hidden golden poles, or avoiding certain platform types, which in turn forces you to find a more complicated or hidden path through the level. Earning stars unlocks various cosmetic items such as avatars, clothing and tags you can use to stand out from the crowd a little.

The world of Hot Lava can also include other players that are currently online at the same time, which adds a competitive element to the proceedings. You can compete with these strangers, or your friends, to get the best times or scores throughout each level.

One word of warning I would give before you jump into Hot Lava is that, personally, I think a gaming controller is a must to play this game properly. You can play without one, of course, but the gyro controls are very fiddly and tedious. I’d go so far as to say if you don’t have a controller available to use, give this game a pass. I’ve been playing it with an Xbox Controller which works perfectly. Once you get into a decent rhythm, and get an understanding of the map, you can really fly through each level.

I’ve found Hot Lava to be fun, yet challenging game, and one that I’ve found myself coming back to over and over again for a quick game. This is a perfect game for a service like  Arcade. It’s simple enough to pick up and play for short bursts when the mood takes you, but also deep enough to sink hours into while you try and perfect your time in a given level. If this first game is anything to go by,  Arcade is going to be a fun ride!


  1. There are about 51 games as of right now. [return]
  2. After some albeit it very limited time across the library. [return]

Minecraft World (the AR game) is both weird, and strangely compelling.

Ah, finally got a hold of these bad boys. I was going to keep them boxed up, but life’s too short.

Taking Another Look At iOS Gaming

Gaming on iOS has been given a hard time for years now. Apple is forever being criticised because the Apple TV, and the rest of their product ecosystem haven’t made all other gaming platforms obsolete. In this sense, Apple is a victim of its own success to a certain extent.

Unless Apple is completely dominating the market it’s in, to many people, they are instantly a failure. Gaming here is no exception it seems.

I, personally, think people need to reconsider iOS gaming and appreciate it for what it is. No, the Apple TV wont replace your Xbox One, or even your Switch, but it doesn’t have to to still be a very compelling platform.

I’ve been gaming a fair bit on iOS recently, in particular on my 2018 iPad Pro 12.9”. On it’s own it’s a really compelling device for gaming, and there are some very impressive, console / PC quality games (see Civ VI for example). When you pair the iPad with an MFi controller, such as the SteelSeries Nimbus many of the already fantastic games on iOS are improved exponentially. When you consider the prices of such impressive games, it’s even more mind blowing.

Some examples of some great games that a controller helps move to the next level are the fantastic Oddmar, which is an insanely cheap £4.99 and Grimvalor. These are both, at their heart, platform games, which have never played all that well via a touchscreen, but quickly hooking up my Nimbus and they are very impressive, deep and engaging games. They would probably be a bit out of place on an Xbox, but I can totally imagine playing, and spending twice the amount on these games for my Switch any day of the week.

Oddmar

There are also a likely a lot more games that support controllers on iOS than you’d think. I found the list below on Reddit which gives you a good idea of some of the gems. The lists include:

  • Galaxy on Fire 2
  • Bastion
  • Wayward Souls
  • GTA: San Andreas
  • Evoland 2
  • Asphalt 8
  • Modern Combat 5
  • Terraria
  • Minecraft
  • Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic
  • GRID
  • Transistor
  • Chrono Trigger
  • Multiple Final Fantasy games

If you have an iPad, which I assume you do if you’re reading this site, I would highly recommend you give gaming on iOS another look if you’ve been avoiding it for a while. There’s a lot to love here, even if Apple hasn’t put the rest of the gaming industry out of business. Why anyone would look to that as a reason to put value in something I have no idea.

🎮 My Top 5 Most Played Switch Games

Due to a recent Nintendo Switch update, you can now re-order your game library in various different ways. One that I found interesting was ‘Play time’ order. I’ve had my beloved Switch since launch day in the UK, so I thought it was quite interesting to take a look at what my top 5 most played games have been so far.

1) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

BoTW

What else could take the top spot but the Switch’s flagship game? I played this for hours on end when I first got my Switch, but then my buying bug took over and I ended up being distracted about ¾ of the way through the game. Fast forward almost a year later and I finally went back to it and finished off the main questline and the two DLC additions that came post-launch.

I’ve always been a massive Legend of Zelda fan, but this game really reignited my love for the franchise. I’ve since picked up another Wii U (after selling my original one) with copies of Twilight Princess and Windwaker HD so I can continue getting my Zelda fix.

2) Paladins

Paladins

While my number 1 spot was an obvious one to me, and likely you, my second most played game surprised me. Close behind Zelda is the Free-to-Play objective-based team first-person shooter from Hi-Rez Studios, Paladins: Champions of the Realm.

While this is, as said above, a Free-to-Play game, I spent £20 on the Founders Pack that unlocks all of the many characters and, while I’m awful at the game, I have an absolute blast playing it. I don’t know how popular the game is, but amongst my small circle of online friends I very rarely hear many people talk about it, which is a shame. While it’s competative nature likely puts a lot of people off, I can highly recommend giving the game a try.

An issue with team based games like this, however, especially on the Switch with its lack of decent voice communication, is that it can be quite difficult to find a decent team. Running off and trying to kill the enemy team alone wont cut it, you really do need to work together. If you end up on a team full of teammates doing their own thing, it wont matter how good you are, you’re going to have a bad time. If, however, you can either play with some buddies or you can find some random people that understand how to work as a team, it really can be extremely fun.

3) Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey

After the unexpected inclusion of Paladins, we’re back with something far more expected, namely the fantastic flagship Mario title on the Switch. The time spent in the game to get it to number 3 was, essentially, the time spent to complete the game on its initial playthrough. I’m yet to revisit all of the lands to find the various extra Moons that are added after finishing it once. To this end, there is still a lot more to get out of this game, which is great news for me. I’m looking forward to forgetting about it a little and then jumping back in to experience it all over again, now with added challenge.

4) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Skyrim

Skyrim was released early on in the Switch’s lifecyce so this time has built up over this time due to me dipping in and out as the mood takes me. While the game is looking fairly dated now, in modern terms, it’s still pretty incredible how good it looks on such, relatively, underpowered hardware. I remember owning this game on the PS2 (or maybe the PS3, I can’t quite remeber) but what I do recall is that the loading times were atrocious. On the Switch, however, they are far better, which is a nice added bonus.

I’ve no idea where I am with the story in Skyrim, I’m just moving from quest to quest knocking them off. It works really well as a game to just dip in and out of. Like Mario Odyssey, I think I’ve got many hours left on this particular game.

5) Smite

Smite

Smite is an Action MOBA or an Action Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game. This is the newest game on my top 5 list, so it’s impressive how I’ve racked up so many hours on it already to be honest.

In Smite you pick a God (from various pantheons) ranging from Ancient Greece, Norse, Egyptian, Roman and many more and join a team of another 4 Gods, fighting an enemy team of another 5 Gods. Much like Paladins, I’m bad at the game, but find it very enjoyable. Also, and once again much like Paladins, if you’re stuck with a bad team you may as well give up from the start, but if you get into a good team you can really have a great time in this game.

I, again, paid an upfront cost to unlock to 100+ Gods from the start, when it was released a few months ago. It is quite daunting trying to learn a game with so many characters to get your head around, but it’s well worth your effort to give it a try.

What does your top 5 list look like? I would imagine Zelda has to be up there for pretty much all Switch owners, but the other 4 slots could go anywhere.

🎮 My Wizard of Oz Moment

If you’ve listened to the latest episode of the podcast you would have heard that I’ve been on a bit of a gaming kick recently, more so than I have for a while. I mentioned there that a lot of my time is spent on the Nintendo Switch, despite also owning a screaming fast Xbox One X, so I took a bit of time out to try and understand what the draw is of the Switch, and Nintendo in general.

From an early age, my life was full of adventure and wonder. By the time I had hit my early teen years I had already been on an epic quest to save a princess, I’d visited the stars and even raced a hovercar in the year 2560 at breakneck speeds. Life was good and the future was truly bright. I could do anything.

Role forward another twenty years or so, to early 2019, and the bright future I had been promised was nowhere to be seen. The colourful splendor of my youth had dissipated, only to be replaced with a heavy grey sheen of despair. My life was no longer full of honourable quests and laughing with friends. It was full of monotonous tasks such as the daily commute and a repetitive need to bang my head against a brick wall, metaphorically speaking of course. My life had become a monochromatic reflection of its former glory. Don’t get me wrong, I have a loving family, a good job and my health, but there is an aspect of my life that was in dire need of some colour. I needed a ‘Wizard of Oz’ moment, in that my life, like Dorothy’s, will change from a dull sepia to vivid life and colour.

Very recently I finally had my ‘Wizard of Oz’ moment. My life, once devoid of hope and luminosity, once again exploded into colour. What I am trying to say, via the use of some very convoluted metaphors, is that Shuntaro Furukawa and his company Nintendo were back in my life, thanks to the purchase of the Nintendo Switch. I had owned the Wii U (and Wii) prior to this, but the Wii U just didn’t grab my imagination like the Switch did, and continues to do.

img_1678

Since its release at the start of 2017, the system has seemingly exploded. Initially, at least, it was unlikely to be anyones primary console, but it lends itself to be a perfect secondary one. It feels like this has been a major contributing factor to the sales phenomenon the Switch has turned out to be. The flexibility of it’s use-case, as a home console or mobile device ticks so many boxes, and can easily be justified as a companion to an Xbox, not a replacement.

I’ve been a big fan of my Xbox (of various generations) over the years, and again continue to enjoy it, but after hour 500 in Destiny, having torn through thousands upon thousands of repetitive monsters, the grey drabness I mentioned above really started to sink in. I started to miss the colour, energy and pure joy that is a Nintendo console and it’s enviable pile of fantastic IPs.

I recalled my fondest gaming memories, such as playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, a game that remains one of my favourite of all time, and of endless multiplayer matches of Goldeneye and Street Fighter 2 with my brother. The list went on and on, with a single, very important link (pun intended) binding my happy memories together. That link being, of course, Nintendo.

My hunger for new Nintendo hardware was not hampered by the lackluster Wii U. The device felt cheap, it didn’t work well and the game catalog ended up being attrocious, but the console did act as yet another example of Nintendo not resting on its laurels and not following the crowd. It was something different, unique and it turns out it formed the very core foundation of what would become the Nintendo Switch.

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch

When I started to see some of the announcement videos, as the launch date approached, I was both very nervous they could actually pull of what was promised this time, still tainted by the Wii U, but also completely on board. if anyone deserves my trust and loyalty when it comes to gaming, it’s Nintendo. It turns out this trust paid off, big time.

The console, as is the hallmark for Nintendo, took past design cues, both those that were successful, and those less so, and evolved the Wii U design into something that both looks, and feels, leaps and bounds ahead of what came before it. The console felt mature, yet maintained so many of the nice, family friendly characteristics that make Nintendo Nintendo, from the quirky dual controllers that can pop up for a quick 2 player action, to the smart colours and designs.

The strength of Nintendo’s past offerings has always sat with their first party games featuring Link, Mario, Kirby et al. This hasn’t changed with the Switch, but something that even Nintendo didn’t bank on, I’d imagine, is the incredibly strong third party support from incredible feats of engineering with ports of Doom and Wolfenstein 2, to unbelievable support from the indie community. Games such as The Messenger and Celeste are some of my favourite games on the system. While these are not Switch exclusives, they do feel so incredibly at home on the dynamic little console.

The point of this short article was not to review the Switch, it’s a bit late for that at this point. It was more to share a thought that gamers need to start remembering what it is that drew them towards the hobby in the first place. I can appreciate that we’re a diverse race, and we all have different ideas of what is fun and enjoyable. If the best graphics and realism are key for you, then by all means keep buying the Playstation 4’s and XBox One’s of this world. If, however, you yearn for a return to pure, and unadulterated fun in your life, I think you’re doing yourself a disservice by not picking yourself up a Switch and jumping into some of the most relaxing, empowering and enjoyable gaming experiences available today. I defy you to fire up Mario Kart 8 and not feel a massive grin crawl across your face …

I will always have an affinity to Nintendo, but systems like the Switch not only cement this for me and bring that much needed colour back into my life, but it will no doubt turn a whole new generation of young gamers onto the fun, lighthearted side of gaming that is needed now, more than ever.​

🔗 PAL Keys - A Link To The Past

As I mentioned in Episode 19 of the podcast, I want to focus my time, both on the blog and elsewhere, on positivity and things that I enjoy. To this end, alongside the tech, I’m keen to put a bit more emphasis on gaming as well. I’ve even started to stream a little more frequently to my Mixer account. I have, however, realised being a streamer is far harder than I imagined. It turns out all I do is mumble to myself like some kind of mad man …

Gaming was one of my first passions, way before more fruit based technology took a hold of me. I look back fondly on many an hour spent on the Atari ST, my first computer system I recall with any form of gaming capabilities.

To date, my passion for gaming, and podcasts, have remained largely disparate. I try to listen to a few more genres than just technology, but gaming podcasts have been largely lacking from my library. That looks to be changing, however.

Daryl Baxter of The Outpost Show fame recently announced a new show, PAL Keys which sounds right in my wheelhouse.

Each episode will feature an interview with a different guest, talking about their favourite game and boss stage. This sounds like a really interesting take on an interview show. Nothing gets to the soul of an individual better than a deep dive into their gaming past. This premise has certainly got me thinking about some of my own favourite games and gaming moments, from the, then, heartbreaking death of Aerith in Final Fantasy VII (apologies if this is a spoiler!) to hours spent getting a kicking from my brother playing as Ken in Street Fighter II on the SNES.

I’m really looking forward to remembering even more ghosts of gaming past, via PAL Keys and the guests Daryl will be speaking to, over the coming weeks and months. I need to ask Daryl for the cheat codes he’s using to keep coming up with such great content.

You can subscribe to the show on iTunes now and listen to a short introduction to the show, prior to the first true episode launching on 11/01.